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This book takes apart and problematises the whole process of identifying and explaining the patterning of words in sentences. It brings together two concepts – syntax and text – that are normally treated separately, and shows how they can best be understood in relation to each other. Part 1, Processing the text, concentrates on getting texts ready for syntactic analysis. Since the data needs to be mediated through the processing of the text, the nature of that processing and its effects on subsequent analysis need to be made explicit. Part 2, Analysing the clause, introduces the relevant syntactic phenomena and the sorts of concepts normally used to explain them. It shows how many of the assumptions of traditional syntactic analysis derive from the languages which form the basis of the European tradition, and that different languages require the so-called "basic categories" of syntactic analysis to be rethought. Part 3, Theorising syntax, sketches the range of syntactic theories available for the "consumer". It gives a sense of developments in the field over the last 50 years not just in terms of the usual "schools", but by picking up on concepts such as the key complementarity between syntagmatic and paradigmatic to characterise the emphases and biases of different theories.
Published: Dec 1, 2008
‘Meaningful Arrangement takes a fresh look at syntactic analysis through a text based comparison and analysis of Mandarin Chinese and Scottish Gaelic. McDonald examines underlying principles of syntactic analysis and questions commonly held assumptions in a thought-provoking and revealing way.
By bringing together syntax and text McDonald is able to address questions that are often ignored such as why one form rather than another are selected in a particular context.
By drawing examples extensively from Mandarin, Gaelic as well as English he avoids the pitfall of using only English examples, as if English syntax were the prototype for all syntax. Also, by limiting the range of languages in the study he avoids the other pitfall of referring to so many languages that the reader loses any sense of languages as systems rather than collections of isolated syntactic patterns.
This book will prove to be an invaluable text for students of linguistics at all levels.'
Associate Professor, Department of English and Communication
City University of Hong Kong